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Queen's University
 

Okanagan

What is the appropriate discipline for professors who sexually harass, or have undisclosed dual relationships with, students ?

Facts:

In 1995, two female students from Okanagan University College filed sexual harassment complaints against their fine arts instructor, B. Craig, upon learning that over a two year period he had secretly dated four different students, including themselves. Tanis Champagne, who had dated Craig in the spring and summer of 1993, and Tara Erickson, who had dated him in the fall and winter of 1994-1995, were both very upset by the termination of their relationship with Craig.  Their discovery of his affairs with other students (he had moved in with his latest girlfriend) made them feel exploited and angry. One adverse consequence was that they no longer trusted or respected Craig or the university that employed him. This emotional scarring adversely affected their educational experience.  The emotional impact was acted out through art pieces containing self-deprecating remarks about the student (Tara Erikson) or degrading images of the professor (Tanis Champagne). Erickson eventually dropped out of the program. A University Faculty Panel recommended that Craig be fired for sexual harassment and breach of trust. In his grievance hearing, an arbitrator dismissed the university's charge of sexual harassment but upheld the finding of breach of trust. A two-semester suspension was ruled to be a suitable remedy in this case, and replaced the university's proposal to dismiss Craig. (Okanagan University College and Okanagan University College Faculty Association (Re Craig) 64 L.A.C. 4th 416, 1997 LAC LEXIS 764, British Columbia, File No. A-156/97 Judge: S. Lanyon)

Legal Questions

  1. Did the relationships between Craig and his students constitute sexual harassment ?
  2. Did they constitute a breach of trust ?

Arbitrator's Ruling

  1. No
  2. Yes

Arbitrator's Reasoning

  1. Champagne and Erickson consented to the sexual relationships they had with Craig.
  2. When Craig chose to enter into a secret sexual relationship with consenting students whom he continued to teach,  he was in breach of trust.  In general, it is ok for professors to date students under the following conditions:  1) the professor and the student should be approximately the same age, and relatively equal in most other respects, 2) the professor must disclose his relationship with the student to his dean or to his head of department; and 3) the professor must withdraw entirely from the supervisory relationship.

 

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